Monday, March 17, 2014

Teaching the SMART Way - The Secret to My Success



In October 2013, I came across the blog post entitled "20/20 Technology Vision" (https://smartblogs.com/education/2012/10/29/2020-technology-vision/)
written by Nicholas Provenzano. (You can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/thenerdyteacher). In a nutshell, this blog changed my life for the better.


Reading this blog post, I came to realize that having a proper technology vision is crucial to succeed in the classroom. A classroom can have all of the technology in the world, but without a proper vision and plan for technology integration, it’s just not going to enhance the students’ level of learning. After reading Nicholas Provenzano’s blog post, I started questioning my own vision and realized that I did not have one. I made it a point to develop my own plan for technology integration. Soon after becoming a SMART Certified Trainer in Notebook and Response and a SMART Exemplary Educator, I took courses from SMART Technologies to become a SMART Certified Lesson Developer. I learned about the TPACK model and creating a balance between content knowledge, pedagogy, and technology in order to support my students’ learning. Not only was I now well versed in SMART Notebook Tools, but I was able to use them effectively as I focused on my learning objectives. SMART Technologies has made a world of a difference in my teaching career and professional growth.


To further my professional growth, I reached out to my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and took additional courses from Teq (http://www.teq.com/) on technology integration in education. I wanted to be the best teacher that I could be; one who is always continuing to learn and grow in order to best support my students’ learning. Since I am very tech savvy, I used SMART Technologies products to reach my academic objectives and goals. I have used other educational technology products in my classes, but SMART most definitely takes the cake. Between SMART’s product durability, ease of use, and their level of technical support, they have supported me through each and every step. I probably called SMART Technologies so many times over the years that I should have my very own VIP line.


When developing my lessons, I focused on the skills that I learned from the TPACK http://www.tpack.org/ and SAMR modelshttp://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/01/31/SAMRAnAppliedIntroduction.pdf of technology integration. I then revamped my entire year of lessons in order to teach in ways that were engaging, interactive, and also challenged my students to think critically. I also used methods of instruction such as the concept discovery method of learning so that my students could become independent learners. I can proudly say that my lessons went from the substitution level of the SAMR model to the highest level of SAMR which is redefinition. This means that the SMART Notebook lesson activities that I created could not have been implemented without technology. In addition, I empowered my students by providing them with lesson activities through which they had opportunities to discover their learning. I acted as a facilitator in my classroom, acting as the “guide on the side,” and not as the “sage on the stage,” which I used to do previously. Not only was this an amazing feeling for me, but it also instilled so much confidence within my own students.


I also made a point to include a multi-sensory approach to learning, as I taught students who learned in different ways. I then created a “Flipped Classroom Model” of learning by sharing my lessons via Google Drive with parents of students who needed extra support. This was an amazing experience. Although I had a limited amount of SMART products in my classroom, I did my best to inspire collaboration among my students. I can honestly say that my hard work has paid off. But it didn’t end there…...I continued to innovate with my class. As the unofficial education technology teacher leader in my school, I became a resource to those teachers in my school, community, and even across the world. I then realized that I was ready to move on to a position through which I would be able to have a greater impact on student learning by coaching teachers on proper educational technology integration. When searching for a job, I knew that I would be only working in a school that used SMART Technologies to support student learning. SMART Technologies products have enabled me to redefine my instruction and become a much better teacher; there wasn’t any way I was going to give up all that I had worked so hard for.


At ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Provenzano in person. I told him how much his blog post “20/20 Technology Vision” inspired me to create my own technology vision, which led to even more professional growth. I gave Nicholas a big hug and I said to him, “You saved my life!”

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